Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ghostly Encounter

The rain lashed against the windows and pounded on the roof. With the other guests out for the evening and the staff downstairs cleaning up from dinner; we were alone in the Coolidge Suite on the top floor corner. After a sumptuous meal with dessert and a glass of B&B by the fire; I was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow. The last thing I remember was Sissy still talking on the phone.

Over breakfast the next morning, she sipped her orange juice and casually asked if I had heard all the tromping during the night. I shook my head with a shrug. Tromping? There were only 4 people in the whole inn and the other guests were an elderly couple on the lower level and he was frail and walked with a cane.

The story unfolded as we waited on breakfast. After she got off the phone, she lay wakeful in the darkness; listening to the rain on the roof and the creaking of an old building settling in for the night. Over the sound of the storm, she heard someone tromp heavily up the stairs directly outside our room; then run up and down the long central hall to tromp back down the stairs. Up and down and back and forth. Through the noise, she could just catch a murmured conversation between several people. Loud enough to hear, but muffled enough to not be able to distinguish what was being said. This went on for 10 minutes.

It could not possibly be the frail couple downstairs. It was perplexing. Thinking perhaps other guests had arrived late, she turned over, pulled the blankets over her shoulder and went to sleep.

When the innkeeper brought our pancakes, I asked him if the inn were haunted. Built in 1840, I assumed it must be. He gently laid our plates in front of us and nodded. “Why,” he said, “what did you hear? After hearing the story, he then regaled us with stories of the ongoing spectral party in the bar, the wallpaper episode and the yellow room.

It was thrilling.

If you get the chance, stay the night at the Echo Lake Inn. Let me know if anything happens. I hope you don’t sleep through it like I did.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hill Cemetery

High on the list of things to do once we reached Richmond was a visit to Hill Cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of our father's ancestors. But it proved more difficult to find the cemetery than we thought. We drove around peering into hedges, tree rows and overgrown fields. We asked at the town hall then drove around some more. We finally found Cemetery Road and the house on whose land the cemetery lay, but still could not figure out where it was.

On the off chance that he might be able to give us some direction, I sent an email to a Find-a-Grave friend, Linus Leavens. He was the fine fellow who fulfilled a photo request months before. He agreed to meet us and walk us in across the field and up the hill.

Early the next morning, we hopped out of the car and looked up at a forested slope like all of them around us. Linus pointed up the hill through the trees and assured us that indeed at the top was a cemetery. Circumventing the dew-drenched field, he made a bee-line for a barely discernible path. The golden leaves littered the forest floor providing a damp but firm footing for the steep climb. Linus strode ahead, like many a Green Mountain man before him; while Sissy and I followed gasping for breath. Pulling ourselves up through the last trees, we got our first glimpse of the headstones in the clearing.

The farmer who owned the land at some point, finding it difficult to mow around them, had removed the stones and stacked them. Generations later, the stones were reset, but not knowing where the graves lay, the stones were put in two long rows alphabetically. An odd arrangement to be sure, but these old stones are still readable when many other younger ones I have seen are not. We followed Linus straight to the "A's".

Our G5 Grandfather, Isaac Benoni Andrews was born 23 August 1765 to Isaac Benoni Sr and Mabel Messenger. He married Sara Morris when he was 24. She was 18. They had 6 children: Horace, John G. Sally, Thomas, Lucy and Lois. Only Horace, John G and Lucy lived to adulthood.

Sarah died in 1804 and Isaac married Clarissa Fay in 1805. Clarissa Fay was the daughter of Salmon and Azubah Packard Fay. Clarissa was 20 years his junior. They had 9 more children, bringing Isaac's total to 15. Isaac's oldest child, Horace was only 4 years younger than his step-mother. Not a surprise then when he married one of Clarissa's younger sisters, my G4 grandmother Azubah Fay. So I am not only descended from the Andrews line but also the Fays.

I cannot thank Linus enough for taking the time from his busy day to escort 2 strangers to an abandoned hilltop cemetery.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunset over Lake Champlain

Wanting to watch the sunset over Lake Champlain on our second night in Burlington, we were flailing around looking for a park the I had heard of. Giving up, (it turns out it was in the opposite direction.) we headed for the ferrydock, thinking we could sit and watch from there. But the dock was closed for the season. So we decided to have a drink at the Ice House. Sitting on their top deck, sipping a lovely glass of wine and nibbling on an artisan cheese plate was the perfect ending for a long frustrating day.

As the sun sank, we chatted about sea monsters: Nessie, Champ and Ogopogo and long dead relatives while we watched boats sail on water as smooth as glass set against purple misty mountains.

The wind picked up as the sky turned golden. We ordered French Onion Soup and another glass of wine.

The boats started to return to their slips as the evening slipped into darkness.

Is there anything more beautiful than a sunset in autumn on a lake in Vermont?

We loved the Ice House, the food was good, the service prompt and the staff charming. They also have one of the best views in town.